A safety inspection is being carried out on Kerry’s ghost estates.
A report is being compiled by the county council on the condition of such estates, some of which have been described as dangerous, especially to children who may wander on to them and perceive them as playgrounds.
There are 35 ‘unfinished’ estates in Kerry, according to the council. Any serious health and safety issues noted during the inspection are being brought to the attention of the developer concerned, said corporate services director Ger O’Brien.
The safety issue has been raised by Killarney Fine Gael councillor John Sheahan. It followed the recent death of a two-year-old boy in Athlone, Co Westmeath, who drowned in a pool of water in an estate.
Mr O’Brien said the council wrote last November to developers of estates with significant building works, services and amenities yet to be completed.
Developers were being informed of their legal obligations to prevent unauthorised access to uncompleted areas and to ensure they do not become dangerous places. He also said developers had a duty to monitor their developments and to cover open trenches, manholes, foundations and basement areas.
Overdevelopment in Co Kerry during the economic boom resulted in dozens of partly-finished and abandoned estates, some of which are well outside town and village boundaries. Some of the most striking of the leftover developments are in the county’s most scenic tourist areas, including Dingle and outside Castlemaine.
The problem has been highlighted by An Taisce, which claimed it was exacerbated by councillors zoning even more land at the behest of other landowners. “There was massive over-zoning,” said Catherine McMullin, honorary planning officer with An Taisce, Co Kerry.
“During the boom, An Taisce was often criticised for opposing development, but it is quite likely we also saved a few developers from landing in the same trouble,” she added.
Dr McMullin said she had heard of one developer toasting planners because they had refused him permission for a large development which, had they not refused him, would have gone ahead and landed him in Nama.
The council is currently ‘dezoning’ hundreds of acres that had been zoned for development.
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